My thoughts on the Civil PE Exam – Water Resources taken on October 24, 2014

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CE_Gator

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Studying

I focused on the morning portion mainly. It was roughly a 60/40 spilt morning/afternoon. I took the School of PE review course which was good. A lot of good notes and workshop problems. I worked out all the problems to make sure I understood those and while I was doing those problems I was making a separate sheet per discipline of all the formulas I used and noted the page number beside them of where in the CERM and School of PE notes I got them. I used this as a basis of creating my formula sheets. I recommend making your own formula sheets instead of downloading one off the internet. You can highlight the things you need help on and you can organize it to where it makes sense for you.

I made four binders. One for Construction and Geotech notes and references. One for Structural and Transportation notes and references. One for just Water since this was the one I was going to use for the morning and afternoon. One of all the practice problems I did organized and tab by discipline. Then I printed out the NCEES exam outline (http://ncees.org/exams/pe-exam/) and organize each discipline according to the outline and labelling each practice and workshop problem I did in the upper right hand corner the type of problem. For example: II.D.1 for a Geotech slope stability problem so I could find it quickly during the test.

Then I took every NCEES practice exam I could get my hands on and put that in my practice problem binder. I would go through the NCEES exam outline and look for the areas that I didn’t do any problems then I would look in Six Minute Solutions or the PPI Lindeburg Practice Problems or online or some other source for problems to do in those areas. This is key since the NCEES practice problem books don’t cover all the areas and other practice exam books cover more than what is on the exam outline so you waste your time doing those problems.

Also during this time I would update and correct my formula sheets. I took my last practice test the weekend before and updated my formula sheets on my computer but forgot to print them out and put them in my binder. I found this out during the exam. It cost me time on the exam looking up the formulas in the CERM but I was able to find all the formulas I needed. I put on top of each practice problem the CERM pages of where I got the formulas or where I referenced.

Once you get all your books and binders set up, and done a few practice tests and problems, take a practice exam just using your binders, notes, and books that you are going to take to the exam. Don’t look up anything online or outside of what is in your binders or books. That will tell you quickly what you need to work on and what you need to put in your notes. I did this the weekend before.

My schedule was spend one to two weeks working on the workshop problems in each discipline then spend two to three weeks on the in depth stuff. Then I spent three to four weeks taking the practice exams and doing problems. My last week I tried to just use my binders and books to work out the problems. The weekend before the PE I did a final exam as described before. Then after that I just organized my notes, and binders, and tabbed all my references and packed everything up. I did a little reading in Metcalf and Eddy but not much.

Books

I used Engineering Boards marketplace, eBay, Half.com and Amazon.com to look for used books for the PE. I used Camelcamelcamel.com to make sure I bought the books at the lowest price since the used book prices varied a lot. You don’t need the latest edition of all the books unless they state it in the Exam Specifications then get the exact edition they called for.

I bought a ton of books while studying but I whittled them down to around a dozen books. This is what I brought to the exam.

CERM (13th Ed)

I only tabbed the chapters of the CERM that I used. There is no need to tab chapters 1 through 13. I also tabbed where the index was and the appendices I used. I used this reference just to double check myself. I mainly used my binder with the worked out practice problems and formula sheets in it. Also the Quick Reference book.

Quick Reference for the Civil Engineering PE Exam

I used this a lot to do unit conversions and to find out constants. This and my practice problem binder with the formula sheets were the things I used the most in the morning and afternoon.

A Dictionary of Civil, Water Resources & Environmental Engineering

I used a couple of times to double check myself on concept questions.

Wastewater Engineering – Metcalf & Eddy

Used several times in the Afternoon. Great reference for working out problems when you are studying since the CERM is kind of light on W/WW stuff.

AISC Steel Construction Manual (13th Ed)

I tabbed the shear and moment diagrams, and the geometric sections. I used several times in the morning. I’m not a structures person and only took reinforced concrete in college and no structural steel. So learning how to use this book helped me tremendously on the morning portion and saved me a ton of time.

PCA Design and Control of Concrete Mixtures

I used this book several times. It is a really good reference. I would recommend this book to people taking construction.

Intro to Environmental Engineering – Davis and Cornwell

I used this book three or four times during the test. I found it most useful during studying.

Water and Wastewater Calculations Manual – Lin

I used this book a lot during studying and during the test. A word of caution, there are several typos in the book and a couple of formulas are wrong so make sure that if you use this book to double check the formulas with other references. One that stood out was one of the forms of the Mannings Eqn they had wrong.

Principles of Foundation Engineering – Das (5th Ed)

Yup, get this. I found it a great reference for studying and for the Geotech problems on the exam. It saved by butt on one question.

Water Supply and Pollution Control – Viessman and Hammer

I think I used this book on one or two questions. I also only used it a couple of times during studying.

Civil Engineering PE Breadth and Depth – Goswani

This is a great reference during the exam and for studying but it also has typos and incorrect information. Just keep an eye out for that. I used it several times during the exam to double check myself.

The following are the books I used for studying in addition to the books previously mentioned:

Water Resources Practice Problems – Nelson

This is a great book if you are rusty on your Open Channel, Closed Conduit and Hydrology knowledge. I used it to fill in the holes in my own knowledge. They need to put a book out for W/WW PE problems.

Practice Problems for the Civil Engineering PE Exam – Lindeburg

I used this some but found out that a lot of problems they had in this book were not applicable to the PE exam. Don’t get me wrong there are still plenty of good stuff in them but I doubt they would ask a Mohr’s Circle problem on the morning portion.

Principles of Highway Engineering and Traffic Analysis (3 Ed) – Mannering, Kilareski and Washburn

Great book to fill in the holes that my notes had.

Every NCEES Practice Exam I could get my grubby little hands on.

Even with working out all the problems, there are still holes in what the actual exam covered if you looked at the Exam specifications. I hate that some of the solutions they don’t put down the formula, the just start putting numbers in and don’t explain how they got the answers. They reference stuff that isn’t even in print anymore.

Six Minute Solutions

Good reference but like Lindeburg’s there are a lot of questions that they will just not ask in the morning. These problems will take you more than six minutes. This book is about the same as Lindeburg.

Exam

I took the exam Civil PE Exam – Water Resources in Orlando, FL at the Rosen Plaza Hotel next to the Orange County Conference Center so your experiences might differ. I hate Orlando and its traffic. I wish the NCEES would break up this exam site into two sites; one in Tampa and one in Jacksonville. So before I left home I made a checklist of what to pack and what to bring to the exam. And of course I didn’t print out my updated formula sheets to add to my binders and didn’t find out until the exam. I arrived in Orland the afternoon before and scouted out where the exam site was located, then I scouted out the closest Starbucks which was next to my hotel (Score!).

I settled down in my hotel room and watched a little football and went to sleep around 9 PM. I woke around 5:30 AM so I can take a leisurely pace in the morning so not to stress me out by being in a rush. I got my Starbucks coffee and made it to the exam site around 6:50 AM and there were already plenty of people showing up. I checked in at 7:10 AM found my seat and unpacked my books and binders. I had 5 binders and 12 books in a roller suitcase. I had two Casio FX-115ES. I set up my area of the table the way I wanted and I had plenty of time before the exam started. So I went to the bathroom for one last pit stop.

Other than the books, binders and calculators; I brought a couple of 6 inch straight edges for when I had to read tables or charts. I brought a couple of bottles of water, a snack bar, some peppermints, tissue, a jacket, and cough drops. I wore a watch, a polo shirt, jeans and my Merrell shoes. I saw people in shorts and flip flops. I guess wear whatever you are comfortable in. It got chilly after a couple of hours of just sitting there so I put on my jacket.

The exam started and I really don’t remember much other than when I looked at my watch, I had worked 20 problems in a little over an hour. I was surprised. So since I had a Starbucks Venti Mocha that morning I decided I needed a bathroom break. When I got back, it took me a little over two hours to work out the last 20 problems and it left me 30 to 45 minutes to review my problems. I looked over them until they called time. A few people finished an hour early and were able to leave for lunch. I felt pretty confident that I did well on the morning portion.

It was nice to have the exam in a large hotel/conference center since they had a lot of lunch options in the hotel. One of the complaints I heard about having it at the Orange County Conference Center was that there was no place to eat other than a hotdog stand.

The afternoon was harder. There are some of the same type problems that they had in the morning but more in depth. I only worked through 12 problems in the first two hours. I really had to pick up my pace. By the time they called out 15 minutes left, I still had five problems I have not answered. I started on them but decided they were too hard and skipped them for the end. I did my best to either eliminate as many answer choices as possible to make an educated guess or use dimensional analysis to get an answer or just plain guessed. I finished with a couple of minutes left and I went over my answer sheet to make sure I didn’t miss anything. I definitely wish I had better time management in the afternoon portion.

I sat patiently for the proctors to collect the exams and count them. They dismissed us, I packed up all my books and binders, went to my car and just sat there a good five minutes staring off into the distance. All I could think of is the damn Orlando traffic! Orlando traffic during rush hour on a Friday afternoon where all the workers are leaving for the day and all the tourist are coming in for the weekend. I hate Orlando and its traffic.

All and all, I feel pretty good about the exam. I think I nailed the morning portion and I did alright in the afternoon. I say I have 50/50 chance of passing.

 

smilestar

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I took transpo feel the same morning was good. Afternoon little harder. Anxiously waiting for result now

 

malfurious

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Thank you for posting your thoughts and approach. Definitely helpful as others start studying for April!

 

matt267 PE

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What is found in an intro to environmental engineering book that isn't in the cerm or metcalf & eddy?

 

matt267 PE

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I guess I should blow the dust off of my intro book.

 

matt267 PE

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Point taken.

Artbides, awesome write up.

 
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CivEnv

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Thanks for the write up! I'll be taking the WR&E 8-hour (along with the CA Seismic/Surveying) in April. This is very helpful!

 

Kegley

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Excellent write-up!

I'll be taking Water/Env. next October in Orlando so I'm glad you included so much information about the testing center.

I was not planning on taking that many books into the test, looks like I'll have to reevaluate that decision.

Were you satisfied with the Water/Env. dictionary you used? I've been trying to pick one out, but nothing has struck my fancy yet.

 

CE_Gator

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Excellent write-up!

I'll be taking Water/Env. next October in Orlando so I'm glad you included so much information about the testing center.

I was not planning on taking that many books into the test, looks like I'll have to reevaluate that decision.

Were you satisfied with the Water/Env. dictionary you used? I've been trying to pick one out, but nothing has struck my fancy yet.


Thanks! I'm glad this was helpful.

Honestly, I only used it once to look up a term that was in one of the questions. Most of the terms were in the CERM or in one of my Water/Wastewater books. I had it because I found it cheap online.

I think I brought so many because it was a security blanket for me. I only really needed half of them. I could have done without the Steel Manual, Goswani and Lin books.

 

CE_Gator

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Hey, can somebody just make sure my post doesn't violate anything in the NCEES agreement. I tried to not speak about the test itself or what is specifically on it other what is outlined in the NCEES exam outlines that are publicly available.

 

dsp002

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Good post.

No classes?

I am considering taking a class for the afternoon WRE session. Whacha (anyone) think?

 
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